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Time is of essence in potential Machado deal

December 18, 2017

BALTIMORE -- There has always been a deadline on the Manny Machado sweepstakes.The Orioles know that they can't go too late into the offseason not knowing what direction the organization is headed with its superstar. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette acknowledged as much last week at the

BALTIMORE -- There has always been a deadline on the Manny Machado sweepstakes.The Orioles know that they can't go too late into the offseason not knowing what direction the organization is headed with its superstar. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette acknowledged as much last week at the Winter Meetings.
"Clubs are putting their teams together now," Duquette said. "That window, when clubs are adding key pieces to their ballclub, that usually goes on now until the first of the year.
"There's a lot more work to be done in the offseason. At some point you have to decide, are you going to fish or cut bait, right?"

Therein, this could be a big week. The week, perhaps, that determines where ultimately the Orioles' plans with Machado lie. With most of Major League Baseball shutting down the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, it's hard to see a scenario where the Machado trade rumors leak too far into January, if at all.
Machado's potential landing targets have been widely reported, though an article Monday in The Athletic made the case for seven potential targets: the Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, D-backs, Rangers and Rockies. Some fits are better than others, though a talent of Machado's level can bring some interesting trade scenarios from opposing teams.

An unideal move would be to trade Machado to the Red Sox or Yankees, given that the two teams play in the American League East and the O's would see Machado in an opposing uniform 19 times a year. But Duquette didn't seem overly fazed by that notion at last week's Winter Meetings, reminding reporters that he's traded within the division before and that Machado -- who stands to be a free agent after 2018 -- could be in opposing colors for a long time soon enough.
"Right now, we control that," Duquette said of which uniform Machado wears. "A year from now, we're not going to be controlling that."
The Orioles are still seeking young starting pitching in return, a need referenced numerous times by Duquette and an obvious No. 1 priority given how bad the team's rotation was last season. The O's have made several offers to free-agent pitchers but have either had difficulty convincing them to sign at hitter-friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards or are stuck waiting out what has been a slow pitching market.

Baltimore's rotation right now has just Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy in it, and the hope is the O's can graduate one player from within and find two external options. Trading Machado may be their best bet to acquire young, controllable talent, though teams may be hesitant to give up their farm for Machado given that he's just one year away from free agency.
Duquette is not inclined to offer a 72-hour window to a potential new club to negotiate a long-term deal with Machado. While that would sweeten the deal, the 25-year-old isn't likely to give up what is shaping up to be a monster free-agent contract to sign an extension. The Orioles are also resigned to the fact that Machado isn't going to be locked up in Baltimore long term. They haven't spoken to his agent regarding an extension in several years as Machado's desire to hit the open market has been considered a foregone conclusion within the organization for some time.
Any major deal involving Machado, of course, will ultimately have to be approved by owner Peter Angelos. That could make things such as trading within the division more difficult, although certainly not impossible.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.